Super Bowl Weekend at Sea: Wild Weather, Larval Fish and Dolphins

This past weekend brought a wild variety of weather conditions, ranging from calm to gale force winds, and temperatures from below freezing to t-shirt comfortable out on deck!  Sunday of course, brought us the Super Bowl, which was not watched with as much enthusiasm as last year’s game, when we were tied up in Norfolk for a nasty storm and were able to watch the game as a group in comfort ashore.  Although plagued by rough seas on Sunday, this year the Delaware II was able to keep working most of the weekend, dropping just two stations 72 miles off the coast of New Jersey at the height of the storm on early Sunday morning.

Conditions have improved since then. We are now rounding  Nantucket Shoals, where we  plan to continue sampling as we head for Provincetown Harbor for shelter by tomorrow morning in advance of another low that is coming our way with storm force winds.

Plankton catches continue to be light, with some larval sand lance and herring caught about 20 nautical miles south of Long Island.  Some larval pollock were caught about 70 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, and a 64 mm juvenile windowpane flounder was caught just eight miles from Martha’s Vineyard.  Small numbers of comb jellies are starting to appear in the Nantucket Shoals samples.

pollock fish larva on fingertip

Pollock larva caught south of Martha's Vineyard. (Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA)

windowpane flounder juvenile

Windowpane founder juvenile (Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA)

We  deployed our rosette sampler once off  Cape Hatteras on Friday,  obtaining water samples from ten depths for nutrient analysis  and collecting data about the size, number  and distribution of plankton organisms in the water column  from the Laser In-Situ Scattering and Transmissometry (LISST) unit.  Yesterday afternoon we were entertained by a pod of common dolphins.  They swam effortlessly alongside the vessel, allowing Chris Melrose to capture a few images before they  sped off to points unknown, leaving us in their wake.

Common dolphins

A pod of common dolphins swam alongside the Delaware II on Sunday. (Photo by Chris Melrose, NEFSC/NOAA)

The plan for the coming days is to follow the receding low pressure system east out to Georges Bank, and then finish our survey in the Gulf of Maine.  I’ll let you know how we stand in our next update.

Jerry Prezioso
Chief Scientist
DE 11-02 Winter Ecosystem Monitoring Cruise

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